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New York Penal Law Section 140 15 Criminal Trespass Second Degree

By Spodek Law Group | July 17, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 15, 2023)

Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 09:22 am

New York Penal Law Section 140.15: Criminal Trespass Second Degree

Hey there! If you’re reading this, you probably want to learn more about New York Penal Law Section 140.15, which covers the crime of Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree. This law makes it illegal to unlawfully enter or stay in someone else’s home (called a “dwelling”) without permission. I’ll walk you through the key parts of the law, penalties, and defenses so you understand your rights and options if accused.

The Basics

Let’s start with the basics. Under NY Penal Law Section 140.15:

  • It’s a Class A misdemeanor to “knowingly” enter or stay in someone’s home unlawfully – without permission or a right to be there.
  • “Knowingly” means being aware you’re entering or staying in the home unlawfully. You don’t have to intend to break the law, just be aware you don’t have permission or a right to be there.
  • A “dwelling” means any building someone lives in and sleeps in at night. This includes houses, apartments, mobile homes, boats, and RVs used as homes.
  • “Unlawfully” means without license, privilege, or permission from the owner/occupant to enter or stay in their dwelling.

So in plain English, you commit criminal trespass second degree if you knowingly go into or stay in someone’s home without permission or the right to do so. Seems pretty straightforward, right?

But as with anything legal, there are finer points and exceptions. Let’s get into those next…

When Entry is “Unlawful”

Remember, the entry or staying has to be “unlawful” to break this law. Here are some examples of unlawful entry/staying:

  • You go into someone’s home without their permission, even if the door is unlocked or open. No consent = unlawful.
  • You stay in someone’s home after the owner/occupant revokes permission or tells you to leave. Unlawful to stay past that point.
  • You have a restraining order against you ordering you to stay away from someone’s home, but enter anyway. Unlawful violation of court order.
  • You enter/stay in a part of the home not open to the public, like bedrooms. Only lawful to enter public areas.
  • You stay in a home after your rental period/lease expires. Unlawful staying past agreed access.

So in what situations might entry NOT be unlawful? For example:

  • You have the owner/occupant’s permission to be there.
  • You have a legal right to enter, like a landlord or repairman.
  • You enter under emergency circumstances, like providing medical help.
  • You enter a part of the home open to the public, like a store.

These examples show there are limited cases where entry into a home may be lawful. But in general, entering/staying in someone’s dwelling without permission or a right to be there is unlawful.


If convicted of criminal trespass second degree, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. That means:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to 3 years probation
  • Fines up to $1,000

The punishment can vary based on your criminal history and other factors. But bottom line – it’s a serious misdemeanor charge with real penalties if convicted.


What if you’re wrongly accused of unlawful trespass? There are some defenses that could beat the charge:

  • You had permission: If the owner/occupant consented to you being there, it was lawful.
  • You had a legal right: Like a landlord checking their property, you weren’t trespassing.
  • Lack of notice: If no signs/fences marked the property as private, you may not have known it was unlawful.
  • Necessity: Entering was necessary for health/safety reasons, which can be lawful.
  • Misidentification: You weren’t the actual person unlawfully on the property.
  • False accusations: The allegation against you is fabricated or inaccurate.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the evidence and determine if any defenses apply in your case. Don’t just plead guilty without exploring your options first!

Real World Examples

Let’s look at some real world examples to understand how this law works:

  • Mark gets mad after his girlfriend Ashley breaks up with him. He uses his old key to enter her apartment while she’s gone to take some of his stuff back. Ashley never gave permission and had the locks changed after the breakup. Mark likely committed criminal trespass second degree by knowingly entering her dwelling unlawfully.
  • A plumber finishes repairs at a client’s home, but the client isn’t home yet to pay him. He stays in the living room waiting for over an hour for the client to return. The plumber likely committed unlawful staying after his reason for being there (repairs) ended.
  • Lisa’s ex-boyfriend Will won’t stop coming around her house and trying to see her after they broke up. Lisa gets a restraining order mandating Will stay away from her home. But Will keeps coming around anyway trying to talk to Lisa. Will is likely guilty of criminal trespass by violating the restraining order.
  • Joe goes into a house party being thrown at a classmate’s home that he was invited to on social media. But the classmate’s parents, who own the home, did not consent or have knowledge of the party. Joe may not have realized his entry was unlawful and could use that as a defense.

These examples illustrate how the nuances of “unlawful” entry/staying apply in real life. Lots of gray areas exist!

What Happens Next If Arrested?

If you’re arrested for criminal trespass second degree, here’s what you can expect:

  • You’ll be taken to the local police station and booked. They’ll fingerprint you, take mugshots, and process the arrest.
  • You’ll be allowed to make a phone call to contact a lawyer and/or arrange for bail. Speak to a lawyer before talking to police.
  • Within 24 hours, you’ll go before a judge who informs you of the charges and sets bail. Bail allows release until your case is resolved.
  • Later, you’ll be formally charged by the prosecutor via an “information” document outlining the exact charges.
  • Your lawyer will guide you on plea options or building a trial defense strategy. Don’t go through this alone!
  • You’ll attend several court dates over weeks/months as your case proceeds. It’s a slow process.
  • If convicted, you’ll eventually be sentenced and face penalties like fines, probation, or jail time.

Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner can make a huge difference in how these cases play out. Don’t wait to seek help!

Parting Thoughts

Whew, that was a lot of information! The key points to remember about New York Penal Law Section 140.15 are:

  • It’s criminal trespass in the second degree to unlawfully enter or stay in someone’s home knowingly.
  • “Unlawfully” usually means without the owner’s permission, but there are exceptions.
  • It’s a serious misdemeanor charge if convicted.
  • An experienced lawyer can help defend against allegations and avoid convictions.

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